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Shoot 'em up
Candy charts a junkie couple's highs and lows
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Candy's lovers make the pathetic goofy and vice versa.
Candy's lovers make the pathetic goofy and vice versa.

Junkies, like barn swallows, are unexciting and scrawny and don't live long. Both tend to gravitate to dim safe havens, neither is very swift, and rarely does either group have a decent film made about them. They're just there, and, barring Trainspotting and William Burroughs' Junky, it's safe to say that most of us wouldn't mind if they just quit tweeting at us and/or stealing our car stereos. No such luck, though: Candy sports Oscar nominee Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish as a narcotized pair of Australians increasingly on the outs with family, reality and rent.

It seems far easier to pen a reasonably engrossing book about the junk lifestyle, or lack thereof. The prose form allows both author and reader to crook a mental arm and embrace the ecstatic dissolution of heroin on the far more negotiable wings of their own imaginations. Film has a more difficult time of it, and when you excise the dire comedy of pursuit, purchase and eventual inhumation in favor of kinda-sorta realism, as Candy does, the end result is almost always a snooze.

Candy, adapted from a novel by Luke Davies, is less a smacky shoot-'em-up than a wannabe classical romance. It isn't a total washout, not with Ledger's smart-stupid schemer at its sticky black core. Playing off the perpetually lovely Cornish, one of the few actresses I can name who radiates some sweet, unknowable inner warmth even in the darkest of roles, Ledger manages to make the pathetic goofy and vice versa. His Dan is a clueless naïf in love who finally gets it, but way too late.

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